TCU fashion merchandising majors are getting the opportunity to work with some of the biggest names in fashion.
In order to graduate, students in the fashion merchandising program are required to complete a full-time internship the summer before their senior year where they receive class credit.
The fashion industry isn’t only based on education, but also experience, said Sally Fortenberry, associate professor and internship coordinator for the fashion merchandising department.
“The internship between junior and senior year is supposed to answer the question, ‘Do you have any experience?’” Fortenberry said.
Fortenberry expects students to have a minimum of six months of retail experience prior to their internship, she said.
“We are expecting them to meet a certain level of expertise once they get to that professional internship,” Fortenberry said.
Fortenberry said she also expects them to focus on finding internships in the area of the fashion industry they hope to pursue a career in.
“In essence, what it does is, it gives them a direct foot in the door,” Fortenberry said. “Building networking relationships in an industry that really is based on networking and building your own personal relationships and reputation in the industry now, as opposed to later.”
Fortenberry visits each student during their internship to ensure that they’re having a good, educational experience. It’s also so the students’ supervisors to understand that this internship is taken very seriously, she said.
As internship coordinator, she assists students in their search for an internship, by giving them a list of contacts for companies that students have interned with in the past, Fortenberry said.
She also keeps an up to date job board of both internships and full time positions that are available in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, she said.
Students take Career Development for Merchandising, a course Fortenberry teaches during the spring semester, to prepare students for their internship. The course teaches them how to create a resume, write a cover letter, attain an interview, answer questions, and what to expect when they begin, she said.
There are many students who are asked back to the companies they interned for after graduation, she said.
“The whole intent is that that our students will maintain that communication and networking with those companies, so if it was a good fit for both, hopefully they’ll find a full-time position with those companies,” Fortenberry said.
Mallory Rosen – Tom Ford
Mallory Rosen graduated in August 2013, and is now a North American Public Relations Assistant at Tom Ford in New York City.
Rosen interned for Tom Ford and was asked to work for them full-time within a matter of weeks.
Rosen said that what she enjoyed the most about her internship was getting to work indirectly with major names in the fashion industry and even some celebrities.
While she did have the “typical intern duties,” like getting coffee and occasionally picking up samples, Rosen said she also had the opportunity to track press and send samples to celebrities.
“Overall, it was an incredibly invigorating experience,” Rosen said.
She said that the internship requirement really ensures that students develop the knowledge of what the real world is actually like.
One piece of advice from Rosen:
“If you truly want to pursue a career in the fashion industry it is important for you to stand out amongst others. While it is good to know the ins and outs of the industry, it is more important to be a dedicated and hard worker.”
Chelsea Reynolds – Adam Selman
Chelsea Reynolds, a senior fashion merchandising major, got the opportunity to intern for Adam Selman, Rihanna’s costume designer, in New York City last summer.
Reynolds found her internship on her own while googling “Rihanna’s stylists,” and Selman’s name kept popping up. She visited his website and sent him an email telling him that she was interested in an internship with him. He didn’t answer, she said.
Reynolds said she emailed him again after researching him more and found out that he is from Texas, so she mentioned that she would be in New York from Texas, and she would like the opportunity to interview with him.
Reynolds said that she never thought he would actually respond because he is Rihanna’s designer, but he did. He told her to come into the studio while she was in town, so she did.
When she got to the studio it was very tiny, she said. They went to his office, and he asked her, “How did you find me?” and why she wanted to be in New York, why she was interested fashion, and they talked about TCU.
“He was really humble about it,” Reynolds said. “It wasn’t that much of an interview, it was pretty informal.”
She said that her experience was very intimate, only working with about five other people, and learning straight from Selman.
Her favorite part of the internship was helping and watching Selman design and create the costumes, she said.
“I remember packing up all the stuff to send to her and about a week later the stuff we made ended up being all over social media, her performing in it,” Reynolds said.
She said that she also helped him find fabrics, and inspiration for his first clothing line, which was shown in Fall 2013 at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City.
“He was a great mentor and they were very helpful,” she said. “If I ever didn’t know how to do something, they weren’t mean about it, they would just show me.
One piece of advice from Reynolds: “Always staying positive, I had to learn to not take things personally.”
Emily Martinez – Roxy
Emily Martinez, senior fashion merchandising major, interned at Roxy in Huntington Beach, Calif., last summer.
She applied through job listing website that she found, she submitted her resume to the website, and the website sent it to Roxy, she said. Within an hour of sending submitting her resume, she received an email from the creative director at Roxy.
She said that she was given the internship almost instantly via email, without an interview. She was comfortable that it happened so fast, so she asked if she could go and meet with her since she would be in California a couple weeks later. She also wanted to make sure it was the right fit for her.
She arrived at the interview, and as soon as she got there, she knew it was the place she was meant to be.
“I fell in love with the surf industry and with design,” Martinez said.
Martinez said it was very laid back, but still very organized.
Since the fashion merchandising major focuses on merchandising, she learned a lot interning in the design department of Roxy, she said.
“We did more of creating the color pallets, creating the silhouettes, the prints and the patters for the collection, and I think it really solidified that you can learn the fashion industry,” Martinez said.
One piece of advice from Martinez: “Keep an open mind, and don’t ever turn down a job or not apply because it doesn’t sound interesting. I was very unattracted to this internship in the beginning and I thought it was fishy, and it actually turned into something I fell in love with, and I wouldn’t change my experience for the world.”
Kelcie Dietrich – Michael Kors
Kelcie Dietrich, senior fashion merchandising major, interned at Michael Kors in New York City last summer.
She said that as much as she has learned in the classroom, she had learned so much more from the experiences she had while interning at Michael Kors.
Her favorite part of the internship was getting to work with the actual product, she said. She also got to take home samples.
She said that her internship experience was “amazing.”
“The people that I have gotten to know and been able to work with while interning have been able to teach me so much about the industry,” Dietrich said.
One piece of advice from Dietrich: “No matter how small or mundane you think a task is, there is always something you can learn and take away from it, and you should give it your all no matter what.”
Alex Gomez – Jimmy Choo
Alex Gomez, junior fashion merchandising major, will be interning at Jimmy Choo this summer.
She emailed the contact that Fortenberry had given her for the wholesale department at Jimmy Choo, she said. Gomez is more interested in fashion marketing and public relations, so the person she emailed put her in contact with the Public Relations department.
Gomez emailed the PR department about five times until they responded and asked her for an interview, she said.
She said that she would wake up early about twice per week to resend emails to all of the companies that had not responded.
“It’s hard because in our age group you don’t want to be pushy,” she said. “Double texting people is a whole taboo, but in the business world it shows that you’re interested.”
Interning in the PR department will give her lots of opportunities to mingle with editors of different magazines and make contacts for the future, she said.
Her first day interning will be a big press event, she said. The PR department will take over the showroom, set up samples, and editors from different magazines will get to view the collection.
She said that her supervisor asked if she could start earlier to train for press day, but she will be out of the country until the weekend before.
“I have no choice, but to hit the ground running,” she said.
One piece of advice from Gomez when applying for an internship: “Not to take it personally when people don’t email you back. I think you just need to have tunnel vision, get a really thick skin, and get used to rejection because it’s a part of life and it is a big part of the fashion industry.”